For those of you who’ve been reading my posts, you know that my grandfather (whom I’d been living with) died in September. Well, last week, my aunt (my grandmother’s daughter) died of cancer. (Rather, the intensive therapy they bombarded her with – but that’s another rant on its own.)
I saw her in hospice before she died – unlike Chacha. I was sick when he was in the hospital, and I didn’t want to risk getting him sick too. I held my Aunt Lizzie’s hand while she struggled to breathe and complimented my eyebrows. We always talked about makeup and skincare and how much we hated working in healthcare. Everyone said I was just like her; empathetic to the point of it being a downfall. When my brother and I were little, we called her “Crazy Lady.” She would dress up and do comedy skits with us in an absurd “crazy lady” voice. We loved it. We loved being with her. She bought me my first ice skates and took me to lessons. She helped me find a psychiatrist in high school. She broke her back for the people she loved.
I’ve come to accept this fact: the people who raised me are dying and there is nothing I can do about it.
My mother called and told me she passed a few hours after I left the hospice. I didn’t react. I didn’t cry. I felt sad, but it felt numb – death was a part of life and my Aunt Lizzie was terminally ill. I was worried for my mom and grandmother. I finally cried when I was able to process it alone – but it wasn’t a lot. Not like when Chacha died. I felt desensitized.
Weeks prior, right around the holidays, I received news that my dad was in the hospital with congestive heart failure (again) and they were going to lose the house mid-January. That I couldn’t handle. That dragged me deep down back into my depression hole. I just wanted Christmas to be over so I wouldn’t have to think about my parents in their lonely house with no tree and no money, or my grandmother mourning her first Christmas without her husband. I hated it so much. All I could think about was being a child in baby-blue pajamas, hobbling down the stairs with my brother and sister. All I could think of was how happy it made my dad to get us gifts, and how he couldn’t afford a single thing for anyone this year. Nothing was the same and it never would be. And accepting that has been hard.
My aunt’s passing didn’t destroy me. At least not yet.
After I climbed out of my depression-hole, I decided it was time to focus on building myself a new life rather than mourning a past one. I’ve been spending most of my time alone, working out or drawing or concocting art projects. Losing myself in a project has helped me tremendously – and it’s helped remind me who I am. I’m a creator of silly, quirky things, just like my aunt. I always have and I always will be.
I’m trying to become strong – both mentally and physically. I’m getting up-to-date on all my health check-ups, I’m starting a hot yoga class, and I’m giving myself daily goals. I want to be able to make decisions for myself, by myself, and to rely less on others for everything. I often forget that it was my own intelligence that got me to where I am today. Your loved ones can guide you – but in the end, you are your own best friend.
It used to bother me when the new year would come around and everyone would post their accomplishments. Why did it bother me? Because I felt insignificant in comparison. What I didn’t take into account was how important it is for you to recognize and celebrate your own personal growth. What’s a few baby-steps for one person is a milestone for another. That doesn’t make your journey any less significant.
In 2017, I quit a job that made me miserable and found one that doesn’t make me hate every day (much). I bought a car (in full!), learned phlebotomy, learned ukulele, and started writing songs again. I started making comics – which I apologize for being so slack with – and I paid off all my credit card debt. I started investing in a computerized investment system and have made $60 so far. (Woohoo!)
And lastly, my most obscure accomplishment – loving someone else along with myself. I used to feel that was impossible for me – that my heart was only big enough for one, including myself. I thought I wasn’t cut out to be anyone’s partner and that I’d be alone – because I couldn’t stand anyone, or anyone I could stand made me lose myself. And in 2016, I was finally OK with that. Being alone was OK. I understood that not everyone needs to find love to be complete. And I suppose in understanding that, I was able to make room in my heart for whatever came my way. And doing that has brought me more love and happiness than I thought I’d ever get.
Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Please feel free to share them with me.
Take care of yourselves! Here’s some of the stupid things I’ve diddled.